Seeing like a Guerrilla the logic of infrastructure in the building of insurgent orders

Silvia Otero-Bahamon, Simón Uribe, Isabel Peñaranda-Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

What is it like to see like a guerrilla? This article studies hundreds of kilometers of roads and paths that the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces built -or helped build- in order to understand the logic of rebel mobility and logistics, and to shed light on how rebels see and intervene a territory in the context of a prolonged asymmetrical conflict. Departing from the tradition that sees infrastructure as a univocal tool of state power, this article supports recent scholarship in stressing that infrastructure is a means to the creation of political orders used not only by states but also by insurgent actors. Yet given that the FARC did not only use the infrastructure built by others, but also actively built and sponsored it, the case offers a unique opportunity to observe how the logistic needs of such insurgency shapes a distinctive geography and materiality of transportation. We argue that the organizational development, the strategic goals, and the tactical innovation of the FARC forced the rebel group to find methods of long-distance transportation. This was achieved through two innovations: the mobility corridors and the situation maps. These in turn resulted in an infrastructure network that had the following characteristics: 1) it was web-like instead of hierarchical, 2) it connected peripheral areas from within rather than following a center-periphery logic, 3) it was often short-lived instead of permanent, 4) it was irregular instead of straight, and finally, 5) it emerged after territorial control was secured and not before. We find that the infrastructural project of the rebel group had the dual effect of making the territory more legible and penetrable for the insurgents, while also making it more hostile and opaque for the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGeoforum
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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